Oskus Stooratt (The Force Awakens)
Interview: February 2017
Let’s start at the very beginning: how did you get started in the movie business?
It all started in the year 1999. l am a joiner/carpenter with my own business, l got a job fitting out an office in Jaywick, Essex, England. The woman had moved her office from London as she lived in Clacton and while working she said one day “You know Mick you have a face full of character you ever thought of the movies?” She said bring me a holiday snap and l will see what l can do. I finished the work and then two weeks later she is on the phone: “l have a job looking for a Bell Ringer on Midsomer Murders”. The rest is history.
How did the casting process of The Force Awakens go?
My wife passed away 2013 and her ashes are in a special place in the garden where l can sit and chat. Others had mentioned that they were to start casting for the new Star Wars and of course every wanted to be on it. Well one evening l was sitting in the garden talking to the wife and it went something like this: “You know dear they are casting for Star Wars wouldn’t it be great? l have been in so many movies and had so many speaking parts, l have been in Harry Potter, The Simpsons, it would be the cherry on the cake if l got on Star Wars. Well a couple of days later l got a call from my agent, we have dates for AVCO (I found out later was working title for Star Wars) if you’re available we would like to put you up for it. Also, the message said that costumes were being made, so l assumed they were picking people to fit costumes rather than costumes to fit us. A few days later l received a message saying “Sorry Mick you weren’t successful this time but will keep trying”.
The next day had another message. It said “Sorry Mick, that was a mistake. You shouldn’t have gotten that last message, you are still being considered” and then it went quiet. I was working on another movie at Pinewood, and the next week my phone went with a message: “AVCO, can you be at Pinewood for a costume fitting on Wednesday next week? “ Ah no how can l get out of a day on this! I can’t ring the agent, so I sent them a message to ring me (which they did) and l explained they said they will let them know and get back to me. l was so upset about not being able to do the costume fitting and missing out on a part. I didn’t hear anything the rest of the day and everything was going through my head. I got back to Pinewood on Monday and every time we had a break l checked my phone but nothing, all around where we were there are sets for Star Wars. How envious l was getting having got so close! We worked, and during lunch I went to check the phone again and there was a message: “Mick, AVCO they said not to worry they can see you Friday”.
When l went for the costume fitting I said to the young woman: “They have been making costumes so what have l got?” “Sorry there isn’t a costume for you, it’s your look they like so we have carte blanche on your costume. We will fit something and then take a picture which we will show to Michael the designer for his approval”
What do you remember of the filming of your scenes?
On set it was so hot. Some beautiful days and a big fire on set, when the girls brought cups of water for us l would drink half and tip half down my front under the costume.
One of the days J.J. asked me if l had ever done dialogue and could do dialogue now. “Yes why not! What would you like me to do, is there a script?” “No, we want you to have a go at him. He pinched your spacecraft so l want you and him to work out a script”. So we did, as a pirate l owed him money so he took my ship so how am going to repay him if l can’t trade. We ad lobbed the whole thing, and when we finished some of the crew thought it was great, it felt so real, but l have realised that that is what acting is about: making people believe your character is real, if you like being a good liar.
Are there funny or remarkable stories can you share regarding your time on the set of Star Wars?
Talking to J.J.! One day he asked what was it like working with famous people to which l replied: “l don’t know, you tell me”. “Pardon” he said, “Well you work with more than me, in fact your working with me, so how are you famous?” “Well l played Dewy Largo the music teacher in The live action Simpsons” “How? Can you prove it?” “l don’t have to it went viral on the internet”. Carry on rehearsals, and left the set to go and look it up, when he returned he had a look on his face “Wow Mick you are in The Simpsons , we have another celeb on set!”
You were there on the set with Star Wars legend Harrison Ford and new stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. How were they and did you get to interact with them?
We don’t normally get to interact with the principles. They keep us separated on set so it’s very rare for them to talk to us, but having worked with Simon Pegg on Shaun Of The Dead and Run Fat Boy Run we chatted. Later when he came to the studio with his daughter he said hello and then went off with the one of guys doing the animatronics to show him one of the heads. It became difficult to wear and operate, so “Hey Mick would you put it on so me and my daughter can see it working!”
While waiting to go on another set l was sitting and talking to two of the young girls of diminished stature when a guy came over and said “You were in The Simpsons”. l replied yes, then these two young ladies had tears in their eyes, ”Why the tears” l asked, “We are big fans of The Simpsons and never thought we would be working with someone who has worked on it!”. A few days later Warwick Davis was at the studio and while he was there we got into a conversation about my nephew, whose wife gave birth to a boy who was diagnosed with dwarfism, so l was trying to get information to pass on. l asked if he had an advice for them, he said you need to talk to my wife who will be visiting the studio tomorrow. The next day he asked for me so we could be introduced to each other, she looked at me: “l know you, you made my daughter cry”. l am so sorry l don’t remember! “It’s okay”, she told me, “because of The Simpsons and they have been watching it on the internet so l recognise you”. That was her daughter, l didn’t know! Anyway, she gave me her phone number as she runs a charity for respite care for parents who have children diagnosed with dwarfism.
What is the best or most precious memory you have regarding The Force Awakens?
That is a difficult question when you’re involved in such an iconic movie. Everything, the director, the people, the other actors, the whole package, and of course now because LEGO has used my character for a video game l am classed as a celebrity and doing conventions for charity. l feel so lucky to be able to use my position to put something back. l am (or was) just a film extra who got lucky and now on Wookieepedia it’s official: the character Oskus Stooratt was played by actor Mick Fryer-Kelsey in The Force Awakens! How cool is that, my granddaughter loves it. You know, her granddad is famous, she helps me when l do conventions.
What was the first time you saw a Star Wars movie and were you a fan before you got cast?
My first time was the original series of three. l have been a fan ever since, not so much for the second three, or as it should be the first three if they went in order. To me it was all a bit out of sync, but to be involved in The Force Awakens… just lost for words.
Your character appears in the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens game. What are your thoughts about that, being ‘immortalized’ as a LEGO figure?
As you will realize for someone like me, a film extra, a Star Wars character to be picked to be a LEGO video game character is something one only dreams of. To have it happen to me is a dream. l say to my daughter “pinch me it’s not real”, and of course she thinks it is great her dad is a Lego figure. She thought it was great when l was picked to be in The Simpsons , then l got into Star Wars and then knock me over with a feather: l am immortalized in Lego, even being photographed by Annie Leibowitz for Vanity Fair! Can it get any better?
Besides Star Wars you have appeared in many movies like Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, John Carter…what do you regard as your personal highlight?
Up until Star Wars it had to be The Simpsons. My niece said “Wow every one, pop stars, presidents, sports personalities, prime ministers…they all want to be in The Simpsons and now my uncle Mick is in it!” Then of course Harry Potter, prior to which l got the part of the Mad Hatter in a BBC drama called Ballet Shoes where a young actress gets to do Alice in Wonderland. Alice was played by Emma Watson. We had a great time together. Then later l went to work on Harry Potter: The Half Blood Prince as a wizard and was in a scene with the three wizards but only in the background. Everything l did l was told don’t shave! I played a great character, a bearded doctor in Wolfman, and by the time l got to Potter l had a full beard. l was given an action as someone slightly tipsy walking through the set and up the stairs. As l passed them she gave me that look, this ‘l know you l think’ sort of look. Eventually while waiting for them to reset l leaned over and said “: How’s Alice?” She looked at me and burst into a lovely smile and said “l know who you are now”, and we chatted like old friends.
How do you look back on the whole Star Wars experience?
One of a life changing experience. If l had not been picked to play a character in The Force Awakens l would not be at this point in my life now. As a celebrity l am able to help and l am booked to help at two charity events for children’s hospices. lt’s a lovely feeling to be in the position to put something back.